Please advise if you have ideas for FM file management in a multi-author FM environment.
I'm THE tech writer at my company. The working FM files are on my local computer, which I check in- and out of Perforce on an as-needed basis. (There is no shared file system.) Soon I'll have a colleage tech writer. However, I don't quite know how to manage source files in a multi-author environment where source files are occasionally shared.
So, what is the recommended environment for multi-FM users. Should I arrange with IT to set up a shared file system? Should a document management system such as Alfresco be used?
Any advice along these lines would be appreciated.
If you don't have a DMS I would always recommend, storing files on a server share, even if you are only one user. So your IT does your backup for you automatically. So put all your FM files all referenced graphics and your publication to a server share. Create a suitable folder structure on the server, so you can find you stuff easy and fast. If you did this, you'll be able to work with several users on these files.
If you need local copies of your files you can use synchronization tools, but these have to handle files, which where meanwhile changed by other users in a best way. But there will be no merge process for FM binary files etc.
All other recommendations are depending on your requirements.
If you need versioning try source code management tools like SVN or GIT (open source). But think about how to handle referenced files.
If there is a SharePoint server in your company, check out Sharepoint integration in FM10.
If you think about content management systems like AuthorIT is out of question because of costs, DMS/CMS is out of question anyway.
Even if you use open source solutions like Alfresco costs will come up as they will come up with commercial solutions (customizing, consulting, training, migration a.s.o). The only thing you save are license costs and generally this doesn't mean commercial DMSs are more expensive than open source solutions. And Alfresco isn't the easiest solution, it's designed as an ECMS.
I think the best approach would be to speak to the Perforce Admin. The problem is that Perforce (like every Source Control System I've used) treats .fm files as a binary format. It may be a question of branching (yourself and your nerw writer working on seperate branches) and merging at an appropriate time.
This KB article may help - http://kb.perforce.com/?article=4
I assume Perforce is a content/document management system (you state you check files in and out). You also state that the files are on your local computer, which I find odd if Perforce is really a CMS. If it is, then have IT move it to a server and give the new writer access to it. When either of you check out a document, the other cannot work on it. I am assuming you do not expect both writers to be physically working on the same document at the same time.
I work in an environment where all the files are on a shared drive (no CMS). There are two writers. The files are locked when either writer opens them ( not sure whether this is a shared drive setting or a Framemaker setting). So, there is no problem because we cannot work on the same file at the same time.
Van - it's a FM setting - File > Preferences > General - Network File Locking
I work the same way you do. It still allows cross-refs to the other locked file to be added when the other file is in use.
We have our files on a network server, and have several authors working on the files. Set Network File locking in the FrameMaker Preferences. Have your IT department set the permissions on your folders/files so that only your group has access to them.
If you aren't using CMS, make sure that you put all the FM documents, and all the resources they require (e.g. imported images & insets) on the same logical drive.
If you have to specify a drive letter in a file path, you're assured to have later problems (usually as soon as a new writer gets a PC and maps the "docs" network drive to some other letter, or the letter gets stolen by a USB stick that beat the network mounts to it).
If you keep everything in the same tree (or get I.T. to set up virtual/symbolic/linked directories to fake it), FM then uses relative file paths, and should be insulated from unpredictable drive letters.
We may never be free of some of Mr.Bill's dumber decisions.
In a former position, we had upwards of a dozen writers distributed around the globe often sharing the same *.fm file. This was managed using Ideom's WorldServer CMS.
In my current situation we have a handful of writers who rarelt (if ever) need to work in the same file. There is no CMS in place however we all do have access to shared network drives. FM book files and all chapters are kept in a Framemaker folder and an Images folder stores all images (relative path). Authors are "assigned" work from the main shared server location and copy the book and chapter files local. Work is done local and then copied back to a "check-in" folder on the server and the manager doing the assignment integrates the individual chapter work back into the main shared folder/book.
If there are only going to be two of you, I'm not certain that a similar scheme wouldn't work well for you.
If there is only you, I don't understand why you'd even be bothering with Perforce.
Unavailable font problems with Update Book with multiple users on different PCs
I decided to jump on the end of this thread.
I am the sole writer using Frame 7.2 and we have Synergis Adept as a Document Management Software solution.Currently I have to keep everything in one FM file but do have a book file and separate TOC and IX files that I copy into the main file as needed.
My manager wanted me to verify that the Frame files can be retrieved by other users and readily updated before he lets me store the book, TOC, and IX files in Adept. He was also concerned that Frame might have a problem if Frame files are placed in a different folder on a second system (which I said should not matter as long as the files for a given book are all in one folder).
We signed out the files for one manual on the manager's PC (TOC, complete manual, book), made some changes, and updated the book. The TOC failed to update and an error message complained about failing because of unavailable fonts. It went on to give several suggestions, which did not make sense. I never got further because it was his PC and he needed to get some other tasks done.
I did copy one set of Frame files to a few different folders on my PC and had no problem editing and updating them.
I am using Windows XP and my manager is on Windows 7 with the same Framemaker 7.2.
My IT guy thinks that may be the problem. Framemaker, the print drivers, and the font library may be too old for Windows 7.
Does anyone have any experiences they can relate about whether the Frame versions or OS versions or both need to match so that multiple writers can work on the same Frame files.
Thanks for the note. How do you run a virtual Windows XP environment on Windows 7?
Does anyone else have any experience with trying to run an old version of Frame on different versions of Windows?
I'm hoping for evidence that would give support to the case for upgrading to Frame 10 (and possibly also Acrobat 10).
The virtual XP environment is available from Microsoft for the Pro, Ultimate and Enterrprise versions of Windows 7. You can download the virtual environment from: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/download.aspx
You might, however, want to consider using VMlite instead (it has a number of advantages over the MS product). See: http://www.vmlite.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47& Itemid=143
FWIW, I've been running versions of FM from v.6 to v.10 on a Win7 64-bit Ultimate platform (without a virtual environment) and haven't had any undesirable instances or phunnies happening (yet).